How to Remove Glue from Ivory


Jim asked: How do I clean glue from ivory? I have an ivory pink that someone tried to make into a stick pin. They used glue. The metal piece fell off of the ivory, but left a dollop of glue on the ivory. How do I remove it without damaging the piece? Thanks.

Ivory pieces come in a variety of forms and colors. The source of the ivory will largely determine the interior structure. In most cases, working with ivory is similar to working with hard wood and can be treated as such. Use the following steps to safely remove the glue from the surface of the ivory piece.

You Will Need:

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Soft cloths
  • Razor or sharp knife (optional)
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Glue:

  1. Begin by scraping as much of the glue away as possible with a razor or sharp knife. Use caution not to cut your hands or cut away the surface of the ivory. Only scrape away the top layers of the glue.
  2. Once a majority of the glue has been removed, the rest will be sanded away.
  3. Use a fine sandpaper to carefully sand the hardened glue.
  4. The sandpaper will also sand away the ivory when it comes in contact, so be careful as you get closer to the surface. Use a fresh section of sandpaper periodically and avoid sanding so quickly that it produces heat. Heat will alter the ivory and should be avoided.
  5. Once all of the glue is removed, wipe the ivory with a clean, soft cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If your ivory piece is antique, it may too brittle to sand and work with. In these cases, contact a professional who is experienced with ivory for advice and service.

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